It used to surprise me which aspects of a company communication people heard. Rarely would it be the facts. Given that I’ve always operated in senior management positions, I’ve been privy to the intended messages coming from the top; and often witnessed a mismatch between what management were trying to communicate and what employees chose to take away from it.
On numerous occasions I overheard chatter in the break room which made me question whether they had attended a different meeting. I knew they hadn’t because such events were infrequent and when they did take place they included everyone, were formal and scheduled well in advance – and therein lay the problem.
The formal and deliberate nature of these ‘presentations’ rang alarm bells in people’s heads. They assumed (sometimes correctly) that the company was in crisis and that jobs would be on the line. In effect they switched off and the positive messages didn’t get through. And that was a pity given that the intention behind the communication was often to bring the big boss closer to the people.
So, what can we learn from this?
For one, messages are better received when communicated informally and on a regular basis. Telling people once and assuming they are now informed is fantasy.
The best advice I can give you about effective communication is to do it consistently, on an informal basis and in an engaging and meaningful way. And if you’re a company Director or Manager then that goes for you too!
People are captivated by casual and unconstrained conversation and will take these messages far more seriously than any formal announcement pinned on the notice board. The key is to make your communication personal – not to be confused with telling untruths about people or spreading malicious rumour.
Send a personal email rather than blanket messaging or take your people to lunch from time to time. However you do it, show an interest in people and they will listen to all that you have to say with open ears.
This week’s link is For Director’s & Manager’s who will recognise their responsibility in putting company messages across effectively.